Numbers 6 (The Nazirite Vow)
(Excerpt from the Sermon)
Sermon Series: Pumped
I want to take you through an extraordinary passage, and you're going to have to listen closely to God's spirit. Numbers 6:1-8 says,
“Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man or woman makes a special vow, namely, the vow of Nazirite, to live as Nazirite for the Lord, he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall consume no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes.All the days of his consecration he shall not eat anything that is produced from the grapevine, from the seeds even to the skin. All the days of his vow of consecration no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled which he lives as a Nazirite for the Lord; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long. All the days of his life as a Nazirite for the Lord he shall not come up to a dead person. He shall not make himself unclean for his father or for his mother, for his brother or for his sister, when they die, because his consecration to God is on his head. All the days of his consecration he is holy to the Lord.’”
In Numbers 6:1, “If a man or woman wants to make a special vow,” this is somebody who dedicates one's self to God and is desperate for something supernatural, something miraculous, something wondrous to happen in their lives.
Remember, the mind which asks for a non-miraculous Christianity is a mind in the process of relapsing from Christianity into mere religion. So what are the three components of the vow?
First, no wine.
This is absolutely huge. Wine was central to every meal, weddings, and national holidays. Every weekend, when Friday was coming and Sabbath was beginning, they would have some wine. Every year when they celebrated Passover and the release from the bondage of Egypt, wine was central. What is the point? Wine was central to life. Like in America, most people here drink coffee, coffee's everywhere. At weddings, funerals, wherever you want. There's always coffee. The vow meant that you were agreeing to radically alter the patterns of your life. There were simply going to be things you had to avoid.
You just could not participate in some things and you had to say no to certain invitations. You are going to make a commitment of self-denial for a season. Moreover, wine was a symbol of joy, pleasure, feasting, and festivity. To say no to wine meant you were agreeing to deny yourself something enjoyable, something loved, something central to life. As a matter of fact, the vow goes as far as to say, in Number 6:3, “...they must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins.” This is really tough stuff. The point is, there was very little resemblance to the life before the vow. It was a major change, major sacrifice, and major commitment. So first, don't drink wine.
Second, don't cut your hair.
Hey boys, sons, there's biblical evidence for your parents not to be cutting your hair, right here in the Bible. Don't cut your hair. However, if you choose to do that, you’re going to give up your cell phone, you're going to eat locusts and wear common skin like John the Baptist. That's a joke. Numbers 6:5 says, “During the entire period of their Nazirite vow, no razor may be used on their head. They must be holy until the period of their dedication to the Lord is over; they must let their hair grow long.” Why? It was an outward sign of being set apart to something extraordinary. There was going to be accountability. If someone came to you and wanted to give you a glass of wine, they would look at your long hair and realize that's not for you. You are trying to abstain from this. You needed assistance, this was going to be hard. You needed people around you to be sensitive to what you were doing. Who were not going to tempt you. It becomes part of your body. Number two (and you can offer this as a sacrifice when you finish the vow) was to acknowledge that God is worthy and to acknowledge that God is powerful, to take something from you and actually make you stronger.
Third, no dead body.
“Throughout the period of their dedication to the Lord,” Numbers 6:6-7 says “the Nazirite must not go near a dead body. Even if their own father or mother or brother or sister dies, they must not make themselves ceremonially unclean on account of them, because the symbol of their dedication to God is on their head.” This is a hard thing, I don't know if you feel that. This would not be that hard for us. But remember, for them, there were no hospitals, there was no hospice, not even ambulances in the ancient world. You were born at home, you grew old at home, you died at home. Then the family would help carry out the body. Also, these were tight communities. Aunties and uncles, cousins, nephews, grandma, and grandpa, all lived in the same compound, separated by a courtyard. So when it says you can't go near a dead body, you have to understand, it's like my grandparents live right here. My wife’s parents live about 10 yards away from there. Across the courtyard maybe lives my nieces and nephews. Over there is my great aunt. Life expectancy also wasn't very long. So anyone could die at any moment. Which meant you couldn't carry the body or attend the funeral. Now, of course, the Bible gives grace for such times because they know someone could die right away.
So if that happened to you and you were trying to take a vow, or you are a Nazirite, you could shave and start again. God is not heartless. He gives room for error. The point is, you are set apart. Nothing should defile you, nothing at all. You are engaging in a radically different way of living.
No wine means you are giving up something that is central.
No razor means accountability and offering.
No dead body means you cannot be defiled in any way.
How long did this last? In Numbers 6:5, it says this, “They must be holy [set apart] until the period of their dedication to the Lord is over.” Literally, in Hebrew, it means until these days are filled. How long? Well, how big of a miracle do you need?
We have historical references of people taking the vow for 30 days, 90 days, 3 years, 7 days. The lengths seem to be determined by how desperate you are. Not very much is known about the Nazirite vow, but these are some of the things that I've found in the Bible. There were some vows, Nazirite vows, that were ordered by God. For example, Samson. It was divinely orchestrated. God told Samson's parents to set this boy aside for Him. There were some parents, such as Samuel’s mother, Hannah, who dedicated him to the Lord for service. Then there were voluntary ones. Where you entered into it when you were desperate for God to do something. For example, in Acts 18, while Paul was on mission, the Bible says he took a Nazirite vow. We don't know why he did it, but we speculate that maybe it had to do with his mission or his ministry in the city of Corinth.
We want to do something that Paul did.
The question is: how badly do you want to overcome the sin that is plaguing you? How badly do you want to break from those shackles that are binding you, to free yourself from this strong, strong thing that's bothering you? How badly do you want peace and direction for an unfulfilled expectation? How badly do you want a new passion for the things of God? To read His word, to pray longer, to fast? How badly do you want these things?
How badly do you want it? Every one of us falls in these three areas. I'm just going to encourage you to see if you want to take the vow. I'm going to share with you how you can do that.
Maybe it's not actually a sin, it's a situation that God has not come through. Or maybe you haven't seen anything yet. Maybe you have no children and you've been married for a long time. Maybe you want to get married and nothing's happening and you're asking God, what's the plan? Maybe you've been battling anxiety for a long time. Depression, you expect God to heal you, and He hasn't yet.
Maybe you need direction for a job, a career. Maybe there's sickness that's bothering you. The Bible says in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd.” He leads us. How badly do you want to experience His direction? To open your eyes to maybe what He is already doing. Well, you can take a Nazirite vow today and see what God is going to be saying to you. How badly do you want a new passion for the things of God? Perhaps you've lost your passion, you've come to church, but there is absolutely no fire in you to do anything God wants to do. How badly do you want revival in your life? How badly do you want to worship passionately, to serve others? Are you content with living a mediocre Christian life or do you want your soul to wake up to the things of God?
Do you want to be pumped for the things of God? Do you want a renewed desire to read His word, to pray longer, to fast, to serve Him, to give yourself up to Him?
God awaits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits for so long, so very long, in vain. How badly do you want revival in your life? The renewed passion for the things of God? How badly do you want something extraordinary to happen in your life? Take a vow today to pursue God and ask for a new passion. We all might fall in these three categories, but I want to give you an opportunity to take a Nazirite vow. If you're desperate in these areas and you want God to do something extraordinary, you're going to have to take some extraordinary steps to show God that you're serious.
We're going to do a two week commitment starting this weekend and we'll end on prayer night, June 5th. I'm going to encourage you, if this is who you are, if you fall in one of these three areas, I want you to take a Nazirite vow. Remember, a Nazirite is somebody who dedicates themselves to God and is desperate for something miraculous, wondrous to happen inside of them. So you're going to dedicate yourself as holy to the Lord. This is the vow, it's going to be in the ONE&ALL app, it's going to say: I would like to experience God in this area of my life. I'm going to write that down. Whatever that area is, like I've said, maybe it's pornography, maybe it's your marriage, maybe it's work. Maybe you need direction, maybe a new passion for God. I don't know what it is.
You're going to say: I would like to experience God in this area of my life.
So one, you're going to give up something that's central to your life. Maybe it's TV every night. Maybe you play video games every night. Maybe you drink coffee every day or tea or maybe beer. I don't know. Whatever is something that's central to your life. You're going to give it up for a time.
Then share it with your community group, trusted friends, or Christian friends. Include physical alterations, maybe no makeup for two weeks. Maybe grow your beard if your work allows you to, maybe no jewelry, maybe you're going to dress more conservative. Something. Do something physical.
Lasly, stay away from anything that defiles your living. For example, if you're living with someone you're not married to, maybe it's time you move out, today. Maybe you struggle with pornography. You give your phone or computer away or give someone access to your stuff. Maybe you struggle with eating too much food. Maybe this time you buy some healthy food or go vegetarian for two weeks. I don't know. Maybe you watch entertainment shows that are ridiculous. This time you just stop anything that defiles you, you stay away from it. Then replace that activity with prayer, scripture reading, walks, worship, serving.
Now, I want to issue a warning. I'm not saying God is a genie in the bottle and He's going to come out and say, what do you want Me to do for you? That's not what this is, okay? We want you to be with God.
It is a space you are giving to God to move in your life, to do something extraordinary so that something extraordinary can be done in you. This might be scary. Some of you may not want to do this because you think God is going to tell you to leave your job and be a missionary or plant a church in Djibouti. I know it's scary, but maybe it's a change that you want.
The question is, how badly do you want God? How badly do you want God to help with your sin, with an expectation that's not fulfilled, or with a new passion? I hope that you want God to do something extraordinary in your life.
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